Prasad has convinced CM to approach Supreme Court over lapses of earlier BBMP Commissioners who were keen to issue TDRs to ex-royal family heirs for land meant for road-widening
If govt succeeds in Supreme Court, it may have to pay only Rs 11 crore, not Rs 1,400 crore worth of TDRs
The decade-old twin bottlenecks leading to Mehkri Circle – along the Ballari Road and Jayamahal Road stretches bordering the Bangalore Palace Grounds — may not see any resolution in the next couple of years. But in the future, that may well be seen as a small price to pay for the bigger objective of the government in saving hundreds of crores by way of issuing TDRs (transfer of development rights) in the context of the road-widening.
And it is here that current BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad (IAS-1994 cadre) could well earn himself a niche in Bengaluru’s history for his stand that the land required for the road-widening belongs to the state government and an IA (interim application) in the matter should be filed in the Supreme Court.
As things stand, BBMP needs to acquire 15 acres and 39 guntas of land of the Palace Grounds by giving TDRs to the property owners for the road-widening work — Jayamahal Road from Mekhri Circle to Cantonment Railway Station to a width of 30-45 metres, and Ballari Road from BDA Junction to Mekhri Circle to a width of 45 metres. For the purpose, TDRs would have to be issued to the land owners through the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA).
But if the BBMP Commissioner’s approach to the issue gets the nod of the Supreme Court, he will always be remembered, whenever people hark back to the widening of Ballari Road and Jayamahal Road, for having saved Rs 1,400 crore of taxpayers’ money, which would otherwise have gone as TDRs to the legal heirs of the erstwhile Maharaja. In that event, BBMP would have to pay just Rs 11 crore as compensation to the heirs for land which BBMP claims belongs to the state government.
As per the documents accessed by TheBengaluruLive, Manjunatha Prasad has brought several issues pertaining to the Palace Grounds TDR to the state government’s and even the cabinet’s notice, particularly the wrong decisions taken by earlier civic commissioners who had misled the state government in the matter.
Now, the state cabinet led by Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has accepted Prasad’s proposal to file an IA with the Supreme Court to bring all the facts, including hitherto unknown ones, before the apex court.
In the relevant order, the Urban Development Department has said, “In view of the reasons explained in the preamble, since it is difficult to implement the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court passed in I.A.No.13/2011 in Civil Appeal No.3303/97 in respect of the Bangalore Palace land, after reconsidering the earlier decision of the Cabinet taken on 11.07.2019 vide Subject No.C-435/2019, it is ordered to file an IA before the Hon’ble Supreme Court. This order was issued as per the decision of the Cabinet taken on 18.02.2021 vide Subject No.C.82/2021.”
Earlier SC rulings
The Supreme Court in its order dated November 21, 2014 on IA No:13/2011 in Civil Appeal No:3303/97 in Para No.10 had ordered as under: “In the above circumstances, having considered the submissions of learned counsel for the parties, including learned counsel for the parties in all the connected appeals, without prejudice to the rights of the parties, and keeping in mind the necessity of widening of the road, and the public interest, we think it just and proper to allow IA No: 13 of 2011, subject to the condition that the appellants in the present appeal and the connected appeals shall be given TDR for widening of the road as per TDR rules.”
The Bangalore Palace (Acquisition and Transfer) Act provides for compensation of Rs 11 crore for the total area of 472.16 acres. The state government has sought permission from the Supreme Court on two earlier occasions, and on both occasions compensation has been paid as per the rates fixed in the Act for 21,510 sq metres of land utilised. The Supreme Court had ordered the same in both cases.
In line with the compensation as ruled by the Supreme Court in IAs 2 and 11, the cost of acquisition for 15 acres and 39 guntas would be Rs 37,28,813. However, instead of the compensation amount, if BBMP were to issue TDRs, the worth of the TDRs would be Rs 13,96,89,14,454, or Rs 1,396 crore.
The reasoning is that if BBMP were to issue TDRs, the same will be sold by the appellants to various builders. Subsequently, if the appellants were to lose the case in the Supreme Court, it would be next to impossible to recover the TDRs worth nearly Rs 1,400 crore.
The Supreme Court’s order on IA No:13/2011 in Civil Appeal No: 3303/97 is because of the communication made by the then BBMP Commissioner to the appellants informing them that as per their request BBMP would be issuing TDRs for the extent of land required as per the KTCP Act and the TDR guidelines, subject to the final decision of the Supreme Court. The then BBMP Commissioner should not have made such a communication directly to the appellants when the case was pending in the Supreme Court.
As per Bengaluru’s Revised Master Plan-2015, the Palace Grounds have been classified under the green zone (parks and open spaces).
Besides, valuation of land suggested by BBMP may not be accurate. Going by the prevailing rules and considering 40% of the sital value (since the area being acquired is more than 1 acre) as well as considering the respective guidance value of the roads, the amount may be around Rs 1,111 crore instead of Rs 1,440 crore as suggested by BBMP. However, this is subject to variations due to valuation of the said land by the Inspector-General of Registration.
Cabinet accepts Prasad’s proposal
In a meeting a few months ago, chaired by the Advocate General, it was proposed that if the state government does not want to issue TDR in lieu of the land — since in the previous two cases compensation had been paid at the rate fixed by the Bangalore Palace (Acquisition and Transfer) Act — an IA could be filed before the Supreme Court for payment of compensation as per the Bangalore Palace (Acquisition and Transfer) Act. However, to proceed with this course of action, the earlier decision of the Cabinet to issue TDR needed to be reconsidered.
Thus, on February 16, 2021, a meeting chaired by the Additional Chief Secretary, Urban Development Department, discussed the proposal submitted by the BBMP Commissioner on February 15 and decided to request the Cabinet to re-examine the earlier decision and to file an IA before the Supreme Court to reconsider the orders passed in IA No.13/2011.
As per the Palace Act
As of today, the Palace land and surrounding open space of 472.16 acres vests absolutely in the state government. Also, as per the Bangalore Palace (Acquisition and Transfer) Act the said land belongs to the state government. The Act provides for compensation of Rs 11 crore for the total area of 472.16 acres. Hence, any compensation that needs to be given to the appellants should be in accordance with the above provision only.
The outcome of the Supreme Court’s order on IA No:13/2011 in Civil Appeal No: 3303/97 is because of an erroneous communication made by the then BBMP Commissioner that TDR would be issued for the land being acquired, when on two earlier occasions – 15-2-1999 and 24-11-2000 — the Supreme Court had directed payment of compensation at the rate fixed in the Bangalore Palace (Acquisition and Transfer) Act.
Instead of paying compensation as ruled by the Supreme Court, if compensation is paid in terms of TDRs for the land required for widening of Ballari Road and Jayamahal Road, for an area of 15 acres and 39 guntas, the value of the TDRs would be as per the following calculations:
Total extent: 15 acres, 39 guntas, or 639 guntas
639 x 1089 = 6,95,871 sq ft x 2 = 13,91,742 sq ft
The land has ‘agriculture’ status with no conversion and no khata. In the meeting under the Chairmanship of the Chief Secretary, it was decided to consider GV to be 0.4 times the sital value (the present GV is Rs 2,70,000 per sq metre). Upon calculation, it would be 2,70,000 x 0.4 = Rs 1,08,000 per sq metre or Rs 10,037 per sq ft. That would come to 13,91,742 sq ft x Rs 10,037 per sq ft = Rs 13,96,89,14,454, or Rs 1,396 crore.
On the other hand, if the procedure is followed as prescribed by the Supreme Court vide its orders dated 15.2.1999 and 24.11.2000 in the earlier two cases, the compensation to be given to the appellants would be:
a) Total compensation for 472 acres is Rs 11 crore and hence cost per acre is Rs 11,00,00,000/472= Rs 2,33,050.
b) Cost of acquisition for 15 acres and 39 guntas would be Rs 37,28,813. Hence, instead of paying Rs 37.28 lakh as compensation, almost Rs 1,400 crore would the value of the TDRs.
TDRs would enrich builders
If such TDRs are issued as per the orders of the Supreme Court, the same may be sold by the appellants to various builders and it will be utilised by the builders in no time. Subsequently, after the conclusion of the proceedings in the Supreme Court and if the appellants were to lose the case, it would be impossible to recover the TDRs worth nearly Rs 1,400 crore.
Taking all these matters into consideration, the state government has seen fit to give the green signal to the proposal of BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad to file an IA with the Supreme Court.